Postsocialist disability matrix

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This paper explores injustices experienced by disabled people in the postsocialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Drawing on Nancy Fraser’s theory of social justice, the analysis proposes a ‘matrix’ that reveals the negative impact of two factors – state socialist legacy and postsocialist neoliberalization – on disabled people’s parity of participation in three dimensions of justice – economic redistribution, cultural recognition, and political representation. The legacy of state socialism has underpinned: segregated service provision; medical-productivist understanding of disability for assessment purposes; denial of disability on everyday level; and weak disability organizing. Neoliberal restructuring has resulted in: retrenchment of disability support through decentralization, austerity, and workfare; stigmatization of ‘dependency’ through the discourse of ‘welfare dependency’; responsibilization of disabled people; and depoliticization of disability organizations by restricting their activities to service provision and incorporating them in structures of tokenistic participation. The analysis is informed by reports and academic studies of disability in the postsocialist region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-117
JournalScandinavian Journal of Disability Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2017


  • Central and Eastern Europe
  • Nancy Fraser
  • neoliberalism
  • postsocialism
  • social justice
  • state socialism


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